Coal-fired power plants can be cleaned!


Greetings to the Sisters of the Disciples of the Divine Master (PDM) especially to Sr. Agnes Peralta, Local Animator (notice many orders don’t use Superior anymore) on the occasion of their 40th anniversary in Cebu. Their Foundation House and Liturgical Apostolate Center was blessed by the late Cebu Archbishop Julio Cardinal Rosales on June 29, 1971, the Feast of St. Peter and Paul. The PDM has been around in the Philippines since Aug. 25, 1956 when three Italian sisters came to the Philippines to establish the PDM.

This is the Adoration Chapel beside the Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (Capitol Parish) that I always come for solace and to commune with God. While I concur with theologians that God is always with us and doesn’t wait for us inside the church or adoration chapels, however I’m positively sure that God is present in the adoration chapels all over the world.

In this world full of turmoil, trouble and uncertainty, there are a very few places where you can truly connect with God himself and it is via your devotion to the Holy Eucharist, where our Lord Jesus Christ is truly present, body, blood, soul and divinity for us sinners to commune and be with God for he knows what our problems are and he knows what we need. All that is required of us is a humble and sincere heart and our trust in the Lord.

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When Pres. Benigno “PNoy” Aquino, III inaugurated the 200-MW Kepco-SPC Coal Fired Power Plant, it gave Cebuanos the assurance that if we can continue on our path to economic development at least in the next five years, where Cebu wouldn’t have to suffer through those pesky brownouts. But the blessing of the Korean-made power plant should be our wake up call that the only way for Cebu to assure ourselves for a brighter future is to already plan for more power plants up ahead, because it just takes too long to build a single power plant.

As expected the blessing of the Kepco Power plant did not go unnoticed by those nosy and noisy environmentalists who if they had their way would go to extreme lengths to block the opening of this power plant because of environmental hazards linked to coal fired power plants. There’s no love lost between me and Pres. PNoy, but I agree with him that the Kepco-SPC power plant will make Cebu free from those pesky rotating brownouts.

The big question we ought to ask is can coal be cleaned? I kept my copy of a collector’s edition of National Geographic magazine’s special entitled “Energy for Tomorrow” dated June 22,2009 and it has a graph about burning coal. Let me quote what is written about cleaning up coal;

“With the help of modern fluidized-bed systems, which burn the coal at relatively cooler temperatures, thus reducing formation of nitrogen oxide (smog) coal-fired plants now remove 95 percent or more of the pollutants that cause acid rain.” That’s the technology of Formosa Power and that’s what the Cebu Energy Development Corp. (CEDC) operates in Sangi, Toledo City in a consortium of Aboitiz Power, MetroBank and Formosa Power that was inaugurated by Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) last March 2010 that Aboitiz Power calls “Cleanergy.”

But what is very telling in that National Geographic report on Energy is how miniscule is the Philippines as a contributor to global warming as compared to China, the United States or Europe. The Philippines is so small, we are lumped together with the other Pacific islands. While I do not dispute that the use of coal has contributed to the global warming, but if you turn on your TV sets especially those having Cable TV you will notice that volcanoes all over the world are erupting in Iceland, Chile and Indonesia. These volcanoes are major contributors to global warming.

Many environmentalist sell the great idea of having solar or wind power, but all these are so capital intensive because at this time, the technology is still too expensive and more importantly, they are very unreliable. As I have already written many times before, I’ve been to Pagudpud Bay in Ilocos Norte three times already to see the only windmills in the Philippines and each time I passed there, I have never seen the blades of those windmills moving because there was just no wind. No wind means brownouts!

Meanwhile, there is a solar power farm in Olango that we also visited. But it is enough to power only lights and cannot even fire up a refrigerator. But while this power from the sun is free, the capital cost to put up that solar farm would have been better spent if they got a small power generator that the residents in that barangay in Olango could very well use. Until and unless the capital cost for solar power and wind farm technology drops dramatically, our best bet is still coal-fired “Cleanergy” technology for the simple reason that for its capital cost in setting it up, it translates to the lowest per kilowatt hour that poor Filipino consumers can afford.

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Email: vsbobita@mozcom.com

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